Oxford United came out on top in the battle of the form teams as two second-half Liam Sercombe goals gave them all three points at Accrington this afternoon. Leading through an early goal from Callum O'Dowda, the U's were pegged back by a Matt Crooks goal for a Stanley side who had won their last four games. However, Sercombe hammered home a Jordan Graham cross and then scored from the spot with a late penalty to win an entertaining game between two good sides that once again underlined United's promotion credentials.
The Yellows started very well with a penalty shout waved away after Kemar Roofe was tripped on six minutes and O’Dowda clipping an effort into the arms of home keeper Jason Mooney a minute later. The home side then enjoyed a decent spell of their own and Sean McConville forced Sam Slocombe into a first routine save of the game before an audacious 40-yard lob from Josh Windass landed on the roof of the net with Slocombe stranded.
It was a good open game and on 20 it took a an excellent goal to open the scoring. John Lundstram, who grows in influence with every game he plays, was the architect with a rolled pass behind the Stanley defence. Roofe had gambled and was on it in a flash to cut the ball back for O’Dowda whose low shot went through Mooney and into the net to make it 1-0 on 20 minutes.
Slocombe needed to make a smart save from a McConville header soon after but otherwise United looked their typical stubborn selves at the back and held the home side at arms length for much of a tight first half.
The U’s should really have extended their lead in the first five minutes of the second half; O’Dowda had a back-post effort blocked by a defender after Hylton’s initial effort was denied, and then Mullins headed a cross back at the far post and Roofe headed over Mooney but the ball was cleared off the line with Mooney helpless.
Accrington were never out of the game though and on 70 were level when midfielder Matt Crooks let fly from 25 yards as two defenders tried to close him down. His rising effort flicked off a boot and over Slocombe to make it 1-1 with 20 minutes to go.
The game then hinged on an almighty let of on 74 as Accrington almost took the lead four times! A shot from similar distance to the equaliser was parried by Slocombe but only as far as a waiting attacker who hooked it goalwards. George Baldock was alert and cleared off the line but again only as far as Windass who sent his effort against the woodwork before McConville's fourth effort in three seconds flew wide.
Those five seconds proved crucial as five minutes later Sercombe arrived late in the box to smash sub Jordan Graham's cross home after the on-loan Wolves winger had done brilliantly to beat his man on the right.
Having gone 2-1 up, the Yellows might have settled for that scoreline and tried to hang on, but they are made of braver stuff than that. Hylton's cross flashed across the six-yard box on 85 with nobody able to find the finishing touch, but on 87 they were home and hosed as Sercombe made it 3-1 from the spot. Roofe, elusive and a constant threat, drifted past Liam Wakefield, who thrust out a leg and brought Roofe down. United have had their penalty problems this season but there was never a doubt this time as Sercombe smashed the ball high to the keeper's right and put the seal on an excellent performance from both himself and the entire team.
Two away wins in a week and the U's are on a roll. We'd hate to be the next team to take them on...
Report by Chris Williams, pictures Darrell Fisher. Stats by OPTA
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